Hiring Employees – Making the Best Use of Psychometric Testing

Hiring Employees – Making the Best Use of Psychometric Testing

richard_mcmunn_Personality or psychometric testing has become a large part of the HR process. In fact, a recent study produced by the Society for Human Resource Management concluded that approximately 18% of companies currently use personality tests as part of their hiring process.

Cognitive and personality tests can, when used correctly, provide an increased level of success among new hires. Financially, a bad hire equates to an approximate loss of a year’s salary, the incentive for organisations to hire the right employee for the job the first time increases. Unfortunately, many companies employ the wrong test or wrong type of test during their hiring process. Additionally, they may use these assessments incorrectly. In order to make the most out of personality tests and psychometric testing there are a few things that companies should consider.

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Legal compliance is a huge issue when it comes to psychometric testing. Hiring managers, the human resources department, and the organisation as a whole, needs to keep in mind that the use of these tests has legal ramifications. These need to be considered before adding these tests. Most areas have anti-discrimination laws involving this type of testing.


In order to use Cognitive testing in the pre-screening or employment process it is important that it be related to the job. The test also needs to be well-validated. For example, in the US, the American’s with Disabilities Act requires that tests respect the person’s privacy and that it does not in any way attempt to diagnose job candidates.

For example, an assessment designed to show the ease with which a person might become depressed, or that assesses the risk of a mental illness should not be used in any job not related to law enforcement or jobs that require these types of safety concerns.

 Understanding the Needs of the Business

The first step to making the most from psychometric tests is to have already well-established job performance measurements. Organisations do not always have these measurements. More often than not they focus on the predictions. A business needs to have solid quantitative ways of measuring employee job performance, without these measurements there is no way to determine how an employee will measure up based on their score. Employers need to have solid data to base their determinations on. This is the first step to ensuring the proper use of psychometric testing when hiring an employee.

Once a clear set of guidelines regarding the business’s needs have been established, look for the appropriate test. This test needs to evaluate the things you are looking for when it comes to an employee and the business’s needs. While there may be laws that prevent companies from discriminating against or invading a potential employee’s privacy there is nothing preventing them from using invalid or even odd assessment tools. However, most people recognise that certain types of testing, for example, hiring someone based on an astrology test, is not an accurate assessment of their skills.


Another example of a frequently used but inappropriate test is the MBTI or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is popular with any number of organisations but should not be used as part of the hiring process. It was not developed with this purpose in mind.

 Safeguarding Against Cheating

There are several ways to cheat on these types of tests unfortunately and it can be difficult to safeguard against such issues. For example, having a potential employee have someone else take the test for them. The best way to remedy this is to proctor the exam either through remote video conferencing or at a physical location.

Candidates may also attempt to supply the answers they believe are what you, as the employer, are looking for, and this creates several problems. It is one of the reasons why these tests tend to be inaccurate. In order to verify the results, compare the results of the tests to the impressions as well as interview of the candidate. If there are extreme differences then it is possible that the applicant supplied answers based on how they think they should answer.

 Sharing Results

This is another big area of controversy. Many organisations refuse to allow candidates to see their results and despite the fact that is common practice in other areas to allow results review. In most cases, organisations simply require the applicant sign a waiver which allows them to keep the results private.

Person is signing a job contract


These are just some of the various reasons why psychometric testing must be handled carefully when using it as part of the hiring process. When used correctly it can be a powerful tool to help ensure that the employee hired is the right fit for the position.